This is a phrase that most of us have heard throughout our lives, but rarely have we stopped to think about what it really means. For sure, back in school we learned about the Bronze Age, or Iron Age, or in music, the Age of Aquarius, one of the best known songs from the group Fifth Dimension. We have also heard about the Ice Age, the Age of Dinosaurs and many other “ages” too numerous to mention. But I’m speaking tonight about the theological “ages.”
To understand things a little easier, it is important to know that an “age” is an era, a period of time that is characterized by something that is different than in other eras. Depending on where you are theologically, there can be as few as 3 or 4 “ages” in the scheme of things, or as many as 8 in very detailed theological circles. Originally, the idea of “ages” had to do with how theologians viewed what we call eschatology, or how things will happen in the future. Without getting into too much detail, which could happen very quickly, and I’m not an expert in this discipline, suffice it to say that these “eras” or “ages” are called dispensations and are periods of time during which God reveals additional truths to His people.
In most conservative theological circles, there are 7 or 8 dispensations. The first started when God entered into relationship with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall. It was the Age of Innocence, when sin had not yet permeated the world. Then, after the Fall, the world entered the Age of Conscience when Man knew right from wrong. Then there were ages of Government, the Patriarchs, the Law and now we are in the Age of Grace, or as some people call it, the Church Age. Eventually, after the Rapture, when God’s people are taken away to heaven, we will have the rule of Christ on earth during the Millennial reign and then eternity, the Age that will go on forever.
For those who believe in a more minimalist chain of events, there is the Law (Old Testament, Grace (the age of the church) and then the Kingdom Age, which we think of as eternity. But the focus of all this today is to recognize the Church Age. Because this is the present age, the time when we are living in a period of grace rather than under the Law, as the world did during the time of the Old Testament prophets. Back in the OT times, Moses received the 10 commandments from God. The Pentateuch, the history of God’s people until the death of Moses, listed all the laws and lifestyle choices the people were to follow and as we all know, it was impossible to not sin. Nobody, except Jesus Himself, has ever had a sinless life.
That’s why the Age of Grace is so important. It started when the church was initiated at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit indwelt the believers and we were no longer under the impossible contraints of the Law. All who accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior were saved by grace; God’s way of allowing us to enter into relationship with Him eternally as a result of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
There are many passages in the Scripture related to the present age. Tonight’s verse is from Jesus Himself, who issued his great commission to the disciples that they should go throughout the world and spread the good news of Jesus, baptizing everyone in the process. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:18-20, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” See that last part – till the end of the age? That’s great news for all of us.
It means that Jesus will never leave us. He will not only be here until the end of this age, but he will be the king in the age to come, throughout all eternity. My encouragement tonight is to let you know that you never have to worry about the Law or any past era. God has continued to reveal Himself to us through al the ages and we still have all eternity to look forward to. My prayer is that you will accept the gift of grace and realize that it is by the grace of God that we can be saved and spend all eternity in the presence of God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…